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How to Pick the Right Dental Hygienist Program Near Northport Alabama

Northport Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young boy's teethSelecting the right dental hygienist school near Northport AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, such as the school's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.

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The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Northport Alabama Dental Hygienist cleaning young woman's teeth

A dental hygienist cleans teeth, examines patients for oral diseases such as gingivitis, and provides other preventative dental care. They also educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health. Almost all Northport Alabama dental hygienists work in dental offices and work closely with dentists and dental assistants. A dental hygienist uses many types of tools to do their job. They clean and polish teeth with both hand and powered tools, as well as ultrasonic devices. In some cases, hygienists remove stains with an air polishing device, which sprays a combination of air, water, and baking soda. They polish teeth with a powered tool that works like an automatic toothbrush, and use x-ray machines to take pictures to check for tooth or jaw problems. Some other tasks of a dental hygienist include:

  • Removing tartar, stains, and plaque from teeth
  • Applying sealants and fluorides to help protect teeth
  • Taking and developing dental x-rays
  • Keeping track of patient care and treatment plans
  • Teaching patients oral hygiene, such as how to brush and floss correctly

Dental hygienists help patients develop and keep good oral health. They may explain the relationship between diet and oral health. They also may give advice to patients on how to select toothbrushes and other oral-care devices.

Dental Hygienist Training and Licensing

How to become a dental hygienist depends on completing educational requirements, training and passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination. Dental hygienists receive their education through academic programs at community colleges, technical colleges, dental schools or universities. The majority of college programs take at least two years to complete, with graduates receiving associate degrees. Receipt of this degree allows a hygienist to take licensure examinations (national and state or regional), become licensed and to work in a dental office. Dental school and university-based dental hygiene programs may offer baccalaureate and master's degrees, which generally require at least two years of further schooling. These additional degrees may be required for a career in teaching and/or research, as well as for clinical practice in school or public health programs. Dental hygienists are licensed by each state to provide dental hygiene care and patient education. Almost all states require that dental hygienists be graduates of Commission on Dental Education-accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. And, almost all states require candidates for licensure to obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (a comprehensive written examination) in addition to passing the state-authorized licensure examination.

Online Dental Hygienist Classes

Northport Alabama Dental Hygienist removing tartar from woman's teethSelecting an online dental hygienist school can be a good option for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Northport AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the right option for you.

What to Cover With Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Northport Alabama, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Northport AL employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited schools.

Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist schools have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Northport AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Northport AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Northport AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Northport AL area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Northport AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Learn How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Northport

Choose the Best Northport Dental Hygienist Program

Selecting the right dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Northport Alabama.



 

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